Profile of the United States Army: Army Organization
Profile of the United States Army: Army Organization
This is Chapter 3 of the 2022 Profile of the United States Army, a top-to-bottom reference handbook that lays out everything you need to know about how and why the Army works—and what it’s doing around the world right now. Links to other chapters can be found at the bottom of this page.
Mission and Current Focus
The American people expect their Army to be ready whenever called upon to defend the nation, respond to crises and protect the national interests. The particulars of this mission at any given time—and the challenges that must be overcome to meet it—are outlined in the periodically updated Army Posture Statement (APS). The most recent APS was released in May 2021; it begins by addressing the events happening on the world stage and at home and sketching, in broad details, the advances that the Army has made in recent years as it transforms to face evolving threats:
America’s Army remains prepared to compete globally and fight and win the Nation’s wars as a member of the Joint Force. As demonstrated repeatedly over the past year, we also remain the Nation’s principal response force to protect our country and communities in the face of unexpected crises. We thank Congress for the consistent, predictable, and sustained funding you have provided. This funding enabled us to deliver a ready Army that responded promptly and superbly to a dynamic and unpredictable security environment, like the COVID-19 pandemic, Middle East tensions, civil unrest, cyberattacks, and south-west border mission. Our priorities are well aligned with the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance: investing in people, sustaining readiness, divesting of legacy systems to reinvest in cutting edge technologies and capabilities, mitigating the impact of climate change, and strengthening our alliances and partnerships.
Last October, the Army evolved its priorities to people, readiness, and modernization. This evolution reflects the achievements of a multi-year effort to rebuild readiness and accelerate modernization. Six years ago, we recognized that readiness had declined precipitously after years of reduced funding, uncertain budgets, and deferred modernization. We also recognized the need for new concepts, capabilities, and posture to compete aggressively in the Indo-Pacific and Europe. With your support, we rebuilt tactical readiness in our units and built strategic readiness in our power projection infrastructure. We deliberately executed internal reforms over the last four years by realigning over $35 billion within the Army budget to self-fund modernization priorities in support of joint all-domain operations.
Thanks to your continued support for Army modernization, we are successfully pivoting from the incremental improvements of the past to fulfilling the robust Army Modernization Strategy that Congress prescribed in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Because of this strategy, and new Congressional authorities to streamline the acquisitions process, we are already beginning to field new systems in long-range precision fires, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality, with more on the way in next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, and the Army network. With these modernization capabilities, we are able to deliver multi-domain concepts, capabilities, and formations that will give the Joint Force asymmetric, all-domain advantages against near-peer potential adversaries. Our gains are real, but fragile. With Congressional support, we established a deliberate achievable path to deliver a ready and modernized Army by 2028 and a transformed multi-domain Army by 2035.1
We live in a world where, every year, the complexities of the security environment grow exponentially and combine to threaten the world order. The Army addresses the particulars of this environmental challenge in the APS:
A dynamic global security landscape continues to challenge our nation. These challenges include: (1) borderless threats, like COVID, cyber, violent extremism, and climate change; (2) the global siege on democracy to include an increasingly contested information environment; and (3) the changing distribution of global power that draws new lines and value propositions for many of our allies and partners. These challenges require an agile, ready, modern, and multi-domain Army that works alongside strong allies and partners. Strategic competitors and regional actors are testing American norms, institutions, and alliances. China, our pacing threat, increases its global assertiveness, while Russia increases its disruptive behavior. Threats from Iran, North Korea, and violent extremism and terrorism remain. While America’s Army maintains a tenuous overmatch, it is fleeting. Future conflicts will manifest at longer range, across all domains, and at much greater speed, both physically and cognitively.
Climate change is altering the Army’s operational environment and adding new mission demands; mitigating these effects has been an ongoing priority for the Army for several years. Climate change impacts Army installations globally and opens the Arctic as a new geographic theater for competition. The Army must consider alternative energy sources, improved energy storage, fuel-efficient design, more robust power distribution, and new technologies, such as weather pattern and terrain stability modeling to better inform operations.
The Army must also contend with threats from within. The harmful behaviors of sexual assault, sexual harassment, racism, and extremism hurt Soldiers and break trust with the American people. The Army is working diligently to solidify a culture of cohesion and intervention to protect our Soldiers, not only from the deliberate fratricide of these behaviors, but from the invisible danger of mental and behavioral health issues, and other stressors that can increase the risk of suicide.2
Current Budget Priorities
In April 2022, the Army sent its annual unfunded requirements list to Congress for Fiscal Year 2023, informing lawmakers where money would be spent if they were allotted more of it. With a primary focus on modernization and infrastructure, this wish list requests:
$2.4 billion in equipping and modernization requirements, including $301.5 million for aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems, $333.5 million for combat platforms and watercraft, $117 million for information technology upgrades and $1.69 billion for weapons and communications equipment. . . . The service would like an additional $1.2 billion to improve infrastructure. This includes maintenance facility projects totaling $761 million, minor construction projects for $109 million and training and command and control facility projects for $310 million. Another $166 million would go toward infrastructure improvements for National Guard projects and $231 million for Army reserve needs. To keep pace with increasing production demand within the Army’s organic industrial base, the service would like another $190 million to cover 45 projects.3
The Army is an extremely complex organization that is comprised of an Operating Force and a Generating Force. Operational forces are responsible for conducting a full range of military operations to support the nation’s domestic and foreign policy. They range from maintaining America’s waterways to conducting combined-arms warfare to defeating U.S. adversaries. The Generating Force is responsible for building and maintaining the Operating Force.
Operating Force. Operational forces are categorized as combat-arms, combat support and combat service support, each having different roles that are mutually supporting as part of the joint force.
- Combat arms units, such as infantry, armor, artillery and special operating forces, are Soldiers who close with and destroy enemy forces or provide firepower and destructive capabilities on the battlefield.
- Combat support units, such as chemical, engineers, military police, military intelligence and signal, provide operational assistance to combat-arms units.
- Combat service support units, such as transportation, medical, quartermaster, ordnance, finance and adjutant general (administration), provide logistical and administrative support to combat-arms and combat service support units.
Generating Force. An all-volunteer force capable of conducting the full range of military operations requires institutions that man, train and equip it. This is the purpose of the Generating Force. Its functions include: recruiting; training and military education; research and development; engineering and base support; and installation management.
The Army Command Structure
The Army has three types of commands: Army Commands, Army Service Component Commands (ASCCs) and Direct Reporting Units (DRUs). The four Army Commands perform many Title 10 functions across multiple disciplines. ASCCs are operational organizations that are aligned with combatant commands and are divided between five geographic combatant commands and four global functional commands. DRUs consist of one or more units that have institutional or operational functions. They provide broad, general support to the Army in a single, unique discipline not available elsewhere in the Army.
The Army Modular Force
In 2003, the Army moved from a division-based to a brigade-centric modular force structure; this was its largest shift in structure and organization since World War II. The Army Modular Force relies on self-contained, full-spectrum units that can be plugged into larger forces, including joint forces, thereby giving the nation the capability of responding quickly to meet the specific circumstances of a crisis.
Within Army Commands, ASCCs and DRUs, the Army organizes its forces according to combinations of types and numbers of Soldiers and equipment available. These organizations range from four-Soldier fire teams to 80,000-Soldier corps.
For now, the Army is a brigade-centric force; divisions serve as command and control headquarters specializing in mission command for subordinate units. The smaller types of units are standardized. For example, every armored brigade combat team (ABCT)—no matter its home base—is organized in the same way; that is, each has the same number of Soldiers and type of equipment, allowing planners of a theater campaign to build an effective force more easily. Once the appropriate number of brigade combat teams (BCTs) is determined, based on theater requirements, planners can select these modular units depending on their availability in the force generation cycle.
AimPoint to WayPoint to Army 20304
In addressing the increasing needs of an Army that must be able to function and succeed in a multi-domain environment, the Army developed the AimPoint Force Structure Initiative. While in 2021 it would be called WayPoint 2028, and then be redesignated in 2022 as Army 2030, its goal throughout has been to provide the Army with a flexible force structure that can meet multi-domain requirements. With little change expected at brigade level and below, the Army originally suggested major changes would occur at higher echelons—division, corps and theater command. Under Multi-Domain Operations (MDO), higher field headquarters would be required to take the lead in coordinating large-scale campaigns against well-armed nation-states such as Russia and China. Because of the geographic distinctions between the European and Indo-Pacific theaters, individual higher-echelon AimPoint formation force structure might differ by theater, as opposed to the current one-size-fits-all units.
In recent decades, the capacity to conduct campaigns at the division, corps and theater level has been compromised, with assets and units at these levels assigned to BCTs. Under AimPoint, headquarters at these levels would be developed and existing ones modified to build back a campaign capability (i.e., adding additional staff, specialists, capabilities and units) to compete with near-peer adversaries and to employ information warfare and operate in the cyber and space domains.
Under Army 2030, the Army announced in January 2022 that it envisions either redesignating existing divisions or creating new divisions into five new types of divisions: standard light; standard heavy; penetration; joint force entry air assault; and joint force entry airborne. This appears to be a significant organizational undertaking, not unlike its 2003 decision to convert from a division-based force to a brigade-based force; under Army 2030, it appears that the Army is returning to its previous division-based force structure.
Fire Teams and Crews
The basic building block of the infantry is the fire team. It is comprised of four or five Soldiers. The Army has two basic types of crews: crews serving weapons and crews manning combat vehicles. Teams and crews are the smallest organization in the Army. Teams are traditionally led by sergeants. Corporals (E-4) and sergeants (E-5) are the most junior noncommissioned officers (NCOs) in the Army.
Two or more teams comprise a squad or section. Both organizations come in several forms and functions. Organizations of Soldiers are typically squads, whereas sections tend to be centered on equipment—two vehicles and their crew, or two mortars. Squads and sections are led by staff sergeants (E-6), which is the next senior NCO above a sergeant.
The platoon is the most junior organization led by an officer–NCO team—a second or first lieutenant (O-1, O-2) and a sergeant first class (E-7). Platoons are comprised of multiple squads and/or sections. A platoon’s function depends on the type of unit, varying among combat-arms, combat service and combat service support units.
Typically, three to five platoons and a headquarters section form a company, battery or troop—totaling 100 to 200 Soldiers. The size depends on the type and mission of the unit. The artillery equivalent of a company is called a battery; the traditional cavalry equivalent is called a troop. Company commanders are usually captains (O-3), with first sergeants (E-8) as their principal NCOs. Independent or separate companies are assigned numerical designations (e.g., 561st Medical Company), while organic companies—those belonging to a battalion—are assigned alphabetic designations (e.g., Company B, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry). Within combat-arms, it is also possible to have a separate regimental company-sized organization (e.g., Battery B, 26th Field Artillery). A company is the basic tactical element of the Army, a cohesive component that can enter combat and perform a mission on its own.
A battalion is composed of four to six organic or separate companies plus a headquarters element, all under the command of a lieutenant colonel (O-5), with a command sergeant major (E-9) as the principal senior NCO and advisor. Such an organization is called a squadron for cavalry units performing armored cavalry and reconnaissance functions. The Army has combat, combat support and combat service support battalions (e.g., 1st Battalion, 37th Armor; 249th Engineer Battalion; and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 11th Transportation Battalion). In performance of particular missions, battalions are capable of attaching different types of companies to form battalion-sized task forces. With 500 to 900 Soldiers, a battalion is tactically and administratively self-sufficient, capable of independent operations of limited duration and scope. As part of their esprit de corps and unit identity, battalions are usually the lowest command level to have organizational colors and distinctive unit insignia.
“Regiment” is a traditional designation predating the U.S. Army, but it has largely been replaced by the term “brigade.” Only a few tactical regiments remain in the U.S. Army, with the armored cavalry regiment being the most notable. Combat-arms units maintain their regiment name for the sake of tradition. For example, the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry and the 3d Squadron, 7th Cavalry are assigned to different higher headquarters, but they share an affiliation with one of the Army’s most famous regiments. Two or three battalions with the same regimental designation serving in the same divisional brigade, however, do not constitute a regiment because no regimental headquarters is authorized. Special operations groups and regiments administer, support and train subordinate elements, but they rarely operate as tactical entities.
Army brigades are divided into three categories: BCTs, functional support brigades and multifunctional support brigades.
Brigade Combat Teams are the basic combined-arms building block of the Army, usually commanded by a colonel (O-6) and sometimes by a brigadier general (O-7). It is a permanent, stand-alone, self-sufficient and standardized tactical force of about 4,000 Soldiers.
There are three current designations of BCTs:
- Infantry BCTs (IBCTs) include three infantry battalions, a reconnaissance and surveillance cavalry squadron, a field artillery battalion, a brigade engineer battalion and a logistics support battalion. IBCTs can also be organized to be airborne capable.
- Armored BCTs (ABCTs) include three armor-mechanized infantry battalions, an armed reconnaissance cavalry squadron, a field artillery battalion, a logistics support battalion and a brigade engineer battalion.
- Stryker BCTs (SBCTs) are centered on the Stryker, an eight-wheel-drive armored vehicle. SBCTs consist of three infantry battalions, a cavalry squadron for reconnaissance and target acquisition, a field artillery battalion, a brigade support battalion, a brigade engineer battalion, a military intelligence company, an engineer company, a signal company, an antitank company and a headquarters company. The SBCT also has advanced command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems.
Functional support brigades are designed to plug into operational formations at the ASCC, corps, division or theater level. Once deployed, these brigades conduct operational- or theater-level support. There are several types of functional support brigades, including air defense artillery; engineer; military police; cyber; signal; explosive ordnance disposal; medical support; and aviation.
Multifunctional support brigades are similar to functional support brigades, but their purpose is to support BCTs. Various types of multifunctional brigade include: combat aviation; combat support; sustainment; fires; and battlefield surveillance.
Corps and Divisions
Divisions are led by major generals and comprise 10,000 to 15,000 Soldiers. Corps, which can comprise up to five divisions, are commanded by lieutenant generals and boast 20,000 to 45,000 Soldiers. They are capable of functioning as a joint task force (JTF) and joint force land component command (JFLCC). The three-star corps perpetuates the lineages and honors of a historical corps. The two-star division perpetuates the lineages and honors of a historical division. Any modular BCT or combat-support brigade may be assigned to any corps or division without extensive task organization or augmentation. This improves the strategic flexibility to provide exactly the right capabilities to support the joint force commander.
Historically, a theater army has been the Army component in a unified command, with both operational and support responsibilities. A field army may be formed by theater army commanders in coordination with unified commands. It will normally be constituted from existing Army forces and structured to meet specific operational requirements. In joint and combined operations, field armies may include units of other services or of allied forces. When the field army is the largest land formation in a theater of war, its commander may serve as the land component commander and may design and direct the land campaign for the entire theater.
An army is a headquarters capable of assuming the duties of a JTF or JFLCC—with augmentation from other services—and controls operations. Each theater army is able to be part of both an ASCC and a JFLCC to support regional combatant commanders. Soldiers assigned to one of these commands will wear the patch of a traditional numbered army and perpetuate its lineage and honors.
Stationing the Army
The Army considers a broad array of criteria when assessing where units will be stationed. Criteria are based on strategic considerations, operational effectiveness, geographic distribution, cost and statutory requirements. For more information on where the Army is stationed around the world, see Chapter 6: The Army on Point.
Map 1: Regular Army Units Based in the Continental United States (Click to view)
Map 3: Army National Guard Division Headquarters (Click to view)
Map 4: Army Reserve Divisions & Functional Commands (Click to view)
ReARMM: Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model5
ReARMM, a new force generation model, was introduced by Army leadership in October 2020. With its implementation beginning in October 2021, it replaces the Sustainment Readiness Model (SRM), which had served as the force generation model since 2016. While SRM was appropriate in the years following the troop drawdowns from Iraq and Afghanistan, helping the Army to pivot its focus on threats from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, it no longer adequately meets the needs of an Army facing a multi-domain world. Readiness has been negatively influenced due to shortcomings in personnel, equipment and training, an unsustainable operational tempo (OPTEMPO) and a lack of funding; these difficulties have all combined to the detriment of Soldiers, families and units, placing significant demands on the force.
ReARMM seeks to address these difficulties in a number of ways:
- aligning units against regional priorities;
- optimizing time available to plan, train and modernize;
- creating predictable windows to field capabilities to units;
- enabling the Army to transform into a multi-domain force and provide a predictable supply of ready units for the Army and the joint force; and
- building predictability for the reserve component, equippers and personnel managers.
Ultimately, ReARMM enables the Army to achieve the transformational change necessary to operate as a multi-domain land power, and it supports the Army’s ability to compete by focusing units regionally with predictable, habitual relationships to specific missions and theaters. It synchronizes all Army components, providing predictably to formations.
Three Phases of ReARMM
ReARMM is intended to improve OPTEMPO with three, eight-month phases for the Regular Army and extended phases for National Guard and Army Reserve units. In the modernization phase, units focus on tasks to receive and integrate new capabilities. During the training phase, units operate these new capabilities as they execute their mission-tailored training at echelon. In the mission phase, units execute various missions ranging from deployments for operations and/or exercises to placement as part of a contingency-ready force.
- Modernization: unit reorganization; integrating modern capabilities; processing displaced equipment; and new equipment fielding and training.
- Training: mission-tailored; regionally focused; happens at the individual, small unit and collective levels.
- Mission: designated units are assigned against specific missions and regions; units are on mission or ready for assignment.
The Army operates on money appropriated by Congress as part of the federal budget, using a fiscal year (FY) calendar that corresponds with congressional release of the appropriations two months before the end of the calendar year. As a result, FY 2022 (FY22) began on 1 October 2021 and ends on 30 September 2022.
Figure 1: Department of Defense Budget Process (Click to view)
The Army budget process begins with commanders identifying requirements from the staff and field organizations and prioritizing their needs. Using guidance from the president’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Defense (DoD), the Army puts together a budget proposal that is submitted for DoD and OMB review. Once approved, the Army budget becomes part of the president’s budget submitted to Congress in February. Congress reviews the budget with the intent of providing appropriation acts to the president before the beginning of the next FY. However, if no budget agreement is reached by 1 October, Congress must pass Continuing Resolution Acts to allow departments to continue operating within stipulated restrictions.
When the president signs the appropriation acts into law, the U.S. Treasury is the first to receive funds, followed by DoD and then the Army. Because the money is provided by appropriation, it carries restrictions. For example, money generally cannot be moved across appropriations without prior congressional reprogramming approval, and some appropriations expire at the end of one, three or five FYs. Because Congress is restricted by law from appropriating money that is not specifically earmarked for spending, the armed forces do not receive excess funds for contingencies. However, due to ongoing operations, DoD requests funds that are specifically allocated for overseas contingency operations in addition to the base budget proposal. These funds fill the gaps between already appropriated money and the actual costs of operations. In some years, Congress may also pass a second bill, called a bridge supplemental, allowing the Army to continue operations in the time between the end of the last FY (the expiration date of the original supplemental bill) and the passing of the next year’s budget (which can be up to several months later).
With the end of the Cold War, the 1990s saw a downward trend in defense funding as the United States reduced the size of its armed forces. The events of 9/11 reversed that trend; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and other national security concerns necessitated sharp budget increases in the first decade of the 21st century. While the second decade saw the sharp decreases that came with Sequestration, the FY23 military pay request represents an increase of $3.2 billion compared to the previous enacted year. The military personnel budget includes a 4.6 percent pay raise for Soldiers and an increase for recruiting-and-retention incentives to support a total force of 998,500 Soldiers.6
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2022 Profile of the United States Army
Chapter 1: National Defense
Chapter 2: The Land Component
Chapter 3: Army Organization
Chapter 4: The Soldier
Chapter 5: The Uniform
Chapter 6: The Army on Point
Chapter 7: Army Families
Chapter 8: Army Commands
Chapter 9: Army Service Component Commands
Chapter 10: Direct Reporting Units
- 2021 Army Posture Statement (APS), submitted by The Honorable John E. Whitely and General James P. McConville to the House Subcommittee on Defense House Appropriations Committee, 1st Session, 117th Congress, 5 March 2021, 2–3.
- 2021 APS, 3–4.
- Jen Judson, “Army’s $5.1B wish list to Congress would ramp up modernization, infrastructure efforts,” Defense News, 11 April 2022.
- Congressional Research Service, “The Army’s AimPoint and Army 2030 Force Structure Initiatives,” 31 January 2022.
- Kyle Rempfer, “New in 2021: How the Army wants to reduce deployment, training demands,” Army Times, 31 December 2020; Kyle Rempfer, “New Army Readiness model to take effect in October,” Army Times, 9 March 2021; Congressional Research Service, “The Army’s New Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model,” 9 March 2021; Major General Kurt J. Ryan and Colonel Jin H. Pak, “Operationalizing ReARMM: A sustainment perspective,” Army News Service, 11 August 2021.
- U.S. Army Public Affairs, “Army releases fiscal year 2023 presidential budget request,” Army News Service, 28 March 2022.